« PreviousContinue »
THE GREAT EXHIBITION OF INDUSTRY.
OUR Engraving for the present month represents the building in Hyde Park, now rapidly proceeding towards completion, in which it is intended to exhibit the Products of the Industry of all Nations, during the present year. Of itself, it forms, perhaps, as wonderful and interesting a feature in this great project as any of the curious and complicated efforts of genius connected with the scheme.
The east end of this gigantic structure almost fronts the spectator, while the north side recedes into the distance to the unparalleled length of more than the third of a mile; its exact dimensions are thus given :
The building is 1,848 feet long, and 408 feet wide, exclusive of the engine-room, 936 feet long, by 48 feet wide. Height of main building, 66 feet; of transept, 108 feet. (This is not reduced to scale in any engraving we have
our own view, alone, correctly represents these measurements.) The ground floor contains 752,832 superficial feet; the galleries 102,528. The exhibiting surface comprises about 21 acres, and the tables will extend nearly eight miles in length. The cost will be about £80,000.
This magnificent saloon is formed entirely of glass and iron; and is, in fact, a vast conservatory, on a scale of unprecedented splendour. It occupies about twice the
area of the great Pyramid, hitherto regarded as the largest building in the world; and notwithstanding the enormous weight of the materials employed, is constructed in such a manner as to guarantee its perfect stability, each section being self-supported, “ like so many iron bedsteads placed side by side,” and every bar, and rod, and arch, being severally tested before the framework is put together.
Nor is its history less curious. The merit of its suggestion rests with H. R. H. Prince Albert; though the idea of such exhibitions is not new, several of the cities of Europe having preceded us in similar undertakings; few, if any, however, having attained to so noble a stature as that of the present year promises. Little as England is in respect to mere territory, few nations can command those resources, or offer that security so necessary to the carrying out of a project like the present. One feature especially in this remarkable scheme must strike every one with admiration, and all right-minded persons with deep gratitude to God for His national favors—the perfect willingness of all contributors, north, south, east, and west of our dear little island, to trust with almost untold treasures, the executive of this world-embracing scheme. One lapidary and jeweller alone sends over gold, silver, and precious stones to the amount not only of thousands, but of tens of thousands of pounds sterling; and from the farthest east of China to the western coasts of America, every country has laid itself cheerfully under tribute to swell the wonders of this World's Museum. More than twice the space enclosed by this building has been already applied for, and gigantic as the contemplated exhibition is in every sense, it will scarcely represent the industry of a tithe of the civilized nations of the globe. When the project, which has now been many months in agitation, had reached a sufficient degree of maturity, proposals were issued for the erection of a suitable building. Plans were sent in plentifully, and notwithstanding the statements most explicitly made by the Commission, that it was to be a temporary erectionremovable without much cost, or sacrifice of material-a large number of them were for structures almost as lasting as the great globe itself, and cumbrous as the keep of some old Norman tower! Cathedrals, palaces, temples--all buildings but such as were wanted, were designed, and hopelessly rejected. Scarcely one would bear the tests by which it was necessary they should be tried; and as the committee were about to give over the matter in despair, an application was incidentally made to Mr. Paxton, the successful competitor as we should have called him, if competition there had been any. His experience in architecture extended little beyond conservatories and the accessories of landscape gardening; but he struck out a sketch upon a sheet of blotting paper, thought it over, modified, and adapted, and tested it, made his calculations, and entrusted it to a friend for submission to the proper authorities, under the impression, nevertheless, that it was too late to be made available ; but as the result proved, with such marked success, that every other plan was at once laid aside, and the crude design adopted almost without a dissentient voice. By the public, too, generally so ill to please, the design has been received with signal favor, not one word of disapproval having been uttered by any individual whose opinion is entitled to respect, or one doubt having been expressed as to the feasibility of carrying it out to its minutest details. No “Exhibition of Industry” has ever surpassed that displayed in the preparation and construction of the crystal palace of Mr. Joseph Paxton.
It affords us much pleasure to devote an article to this grand scheme for bringing to a focus the products of our globe. As an Educational movement we regard it with the deepest interest. The world will be epitomized in the space of a few acres : knowledge will be concentrated in one magnificent saloon-the history of Art, Manufactures, and Science will be made palpable and tangible before our eyes. Even the workings of the inner man, Thought, Invention, Causation, Analogy, Imaginationall these will speak by their developments--the mental and moral will become to a certain extent visible, and the fault will be ours alone, if we grow not wiser and better under the varied and multiform influences of such a spectacle of spectacles.
We record this testimony the more readily because we are aware that much foolish opposition has been raised to this stupendous undertaking. One jaundiced eye sees in it a scheme for civil revolution—another for a Popish outbreak, and a renewal of the black deeds of St. Bartholomew's day-a third, fears from it a certain visitation of plague and pestilencea fourth, inevitable famine with all its horrors. For us it is fraught with far different anticipations; peace, good-will, progress, friendly and beneficial competition—beneficial in the highest and best sense, as leading to the recognition of the great truth that all men are brethren; the spread of useful knowledge, the removal of old but groundless prejudices, and probably the emancipation and permanent elevation of many of our own species in various and distant regions of the habitable globe.
For what can there be of evil in the simple but grand idea under review_"The Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations." Where lies the sin ? Is it wrong to hold out to “all nations" the right hand of fellowship, to cultivate such friendly relations as may induce them to entrust to us these hostages of Peace-to confide in our good feeling, and send over such costly earnests of their confidence as must hold them, even against their wills, to fellowship with English hearts ? We think not. Is "Industry" a bad thing then ! “Providence,” says More, " would only initiate mankind into the useful knowledge of her treasures, leaving the rest to employ our industry that we might not live like idle loiterers.” If therefore Industry be an arrangement of Providence, or rather a purpose of the God of providence (for we have no secondary gods-no dië minores in Christianity) how shall we find fault with it and not reproach our Maker? What then? If Industry be good and right, can the "exhibition" of it be wrong? Must we hide or bury the precious talent though it bring forth nothing better than the humblest possible tribute to the amenities, or refinements, or comforts of life? A breast-plate, an ephod, a robe, a broidered coat, a mitre, and a girdle, once engaged the special complacency of the Most High God himself, and those who were wisehearted to make them, were by Him filled with the Spirit of wisdom, for that very work. All God-given talent is not for spiritual service only: we may and do honor him with the body, wh we use as not abusing them, the fearfully wondrous resources he has placed within us.
What a microcosm is that little word “Industry!” A mere seed within the mind, who can possibly calculate on the splendour or magnitude of its developments without? Walk round